Expat Partner: Can My Career Travel Too? Questions You Should Answer Before Saying YES

For many expat partners the excitement at the prospect of their partners new job opportunity abroad is tinged with uncertainty and concern about the impact relocation will have on their own career. If you value your professional career and want to maintain and develop it in your new location then this article is for you.

If you envision your career as a key component of what you’ll do whilst you are overseas you need to do some serious research BEFORE you decide “yes or no” to the relocation opportunity.



Questions to ask research:


Are my professional qualifications recognised in my new location?  If you have professional qualifications, how readily are they accepted/recognized in your host country? What is the process for your qualifications to be reviewed and accepted? Getting your qualifications recognised can be a short process or it can take months, even years.


Will I be able to secure permission to work? This is easier in some locations than others. Find out what your eligibility to a work visa will be. How can you acquire one? How will your partners organization support you in applying for and securing a work permit/visa? If you are relying on your partner’s employer for support, make sure it’s outlined in the relocation package of support.


Will I face significant language and cultural challenges? What languages will be expected in the kind of company/organization you would like to work for? How do they view foreign employees, particularly those who are expat partners on assignment? Some companies are unwilling to employ people who are not going to stay around for long. Although that may count in your favour if you are looking for short term consultancy roles.


How flexible do I need my working hours to be? Remember that you will be moving to a new country where your normal support networks do not exist. If you have children think carefully about how you can combine these two roles. Understand the support you’ll need to fill the gaps and consider the cultural openness to flexible working hours and holidays.


What are my skills, knowledge, strengths and achievements? Ensure that you are crystal clear about what you would be bringing to a role in your new location. Clarity in this respect will focus your conversations and help people to understand where you might fit in their organization.


How flexible am I prepared to be in terms of role, seniority and pay? The truth is that there is likely to be some need for compromise initially. You may not find a role that is equivalent in pay and/or status to your current one. Think carefully about what you are prepared to trade for the experience of living abroad and gaining international work experience. Also think about how you can be flexible in the kinds of roles that you apply your skills and experience to. Sometimes you take a step back to then move forward.


One last question to consider, because sometimes things don’t go as planned or you get there and your reality requires a different plan of action:


What will I do if I can’t pursue my career whilst overseas?

Would you consider a career break? OR consider using your relocation experience as an opportunity to branch out in a new professional direction? This additional article will help you to think about those options and possibilities: Relocation For Expat Partners: Career Break or Career Ruin.


Author: Louise Wiles, Thriving Abroad


Exciting though expat life is, expat partners often feel that their personal and professional aspirations have been put on hold as they’ve moved abroad. If this is you then Thriving Abroad can help you to create an expat life that you love. Come and join our community of expat partners and sign up for engaging expat related content in our regular newsletters.